In the 90’s I remember a big hub-bub about friends procuring copies of The Anarchist Cookbook. To get you up to speed, the book had content to teach in part crude bomb making, about explosives, booby traps, etc. By today’s standards, the book would be lacking for your DIY home anarchist’s kit, as with the internet there is so much more out there. One of the interesting things about the book is that it was under the scrutiny of the federal government at one time, big surprise there. According to the Wikipedia page on the book:
The book was reviewed by the Department of Justice, the White House, the FBI, and by both John Dean and Mark Felt, Richard Nixon’s lawyer and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s associate director respectively. While having concerns about the text, the FBI concluded that it could not be regulated as it was published through mass media. Furthermore, the FBI ruled that The Anarchist Cookbook does not incite “forcible resistance to any law of the United States” and is therefore protected under the First Amendment.
To think anything different would be crazy. Of course the book is protected under the First Amendment. While we’re on the subject of First Amendment protected rights, the reintroduction of the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act occurred on June 29, 2021.
Let’s get one thing out of the way; in no way, shape, form, or manner am I comparing the manufacture of explosives to building at home firearms. I do, however, think it’s important to set the record straight that if a book on bomb making, explosives, and embraces radical ideals is protected speech, then clearly the plans for 3D printed firearms are as well. The bill text even has a feeble attempt to quash concerns surrounding the chilling of First Amendment expression:
Congress seeks not to regulate the rights of computer programmers under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but rather to curb the pernicious effects of untraceable—and potentially undetectable—firearms.
That’s cute. As if they have a crystal ball and are trying to make an affirmative defense to the egregiously unconstitutional bill. A side bar, this is how Canada makes their laws, with their judicial system conspiring with the legislators to make sure laws will not be overturned when challenged.
The bill was introduced by none other than the freedom-hating Senator Bob Menendez out of New Jersey along with Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Representative Ted Deutch (FL-22), et.al. Having Menendez jump on board with such legislation shouldn’t be a surprise, but actually, it’s kind of a bold move.
Recently the now-former NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal had a petition denied by the Supreme Court on a similar situation; Defense Distributed v. Grewal. In that petition to the high court, Grewal was seeking to have a lower court’s opinion overturned on whether or not he could stop the distribution of 3D printed firearm related files. Like something straight out of 1984, if you were in New Jersey and tried to access such webpages, you would be unable to do so. However, with the use of a VPN, you could. Granted, the situations are technically different, however they both revolve around two enumerated rights.
The bill text is lengthy for what the sponsors aim to do. The writers of the bill could have simply stated “It is hereby illegal to distribute any information that the Crown finds offensive.” The statutory definition of “offensive” would read “We’ll know it when we see it.” Some excerpts of the actual text:
It shall be unlawful for any person to intentionally distribute, over the Internet or by means of the World Wide Web, digital instructions in the form of Computer Aided Design files or other code that can automatically program a 3-dimensional printer or similar device to produce a firearm or complete a firearm from an unfinished frame or receiver.’’.
The preamble of their magnum opus goes on a digression about “untraceable” firearms and all the crime guns that show up which are void of serial numbers. Do read the text in full. One of the neat little bait and switch tactics the anti-freedom caucus has been leaning on over the last year is lumping in together the notion that “ghost guns” and by extension 3D printed guns are the same as “untraceable” guns. The fun fact that often doesn’t make it into the press releases, articles, or legislation is that any firearm with an obliterated serial number also fits that description. Forget firearms pre-1968. Criminals have been scratching off serial numbers on firearms since serial numbers have been in existence.
What do these stooges have to say for themselves? From Representative Ted Deutch’s press release:
“With no background check required, untraceable and undetectable 3D printed guns serve as the ultimate gun-acquisition loophole,” said Senator Markey. “With the click of a mouse, anyone can download a computer file and use a 3D printer to manufacture a semi-automatic weapon. We cannot allow the online availability of downloadable firearms to add fuel to the fire that already is a massive gun violence public safety crisis. I thank Senator Menendez and Congressman Deutch for their tremendous partnership on this legislation that will help close a major safety loophole.”
“With the click of a mouse, anyone with an internet connection and a 3D printer essentially has a license to print, shoot and kill,” said Senator Menendez. “Undetectable and untraceable 3D printed guns allow criminals to circumvent law enforcement and commit crimes. That’s why we must close the ‘3D Gun Loophole’ that allows dangerous individuals to exploit gaps in existing law to manufacture firearms at home they cannot otherwise legally obtain.”
“3D printers are increasingly used to manufacture everyday goods easily and cheaply; but, we cannot allow individuals to make deadly firearms with the same ease,” said Congressman Deutch. “These printers are capable of making high-strength plastic firearms that are untraceable and undetectable – something criminals and other individuals prohibited by law from possessing a firearm could use to evade our laws. Congress must take care to ensure that internet access does not equal gun access.”
“At a time when gun violence surges nationwide, especially in Florida, easy accessibility to untraceable, undetectable 3D-printed guns further impedes our ability to keep communities safe. As 3D printers become cheaper to obtain and easier to operate, that threat becomes all the more real. This vital legislation is urgently needed to keep lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz.
There is more to learn from the press release, but you can do further reading on your own if you’re so inclined. You get the point though. What’s astounding is how these legislators think that this bill will pass constitutional muster. If this were a bill about distributing leftist progressive ideas, the anti freedom caucus would be having a hissy fit of epic proportions. How about the regulation of the type of bible that’s allowed? I think England had the market cornered on that at one time? Paging Larry Flynt, he had plenty to say on the subject of First Amendment protections. Allen Ginsberg?
Anti-gun lawmakers are constantly looking for the next bogeyman man. They failed with their attack on handguns in a post Heller United States (actually Heller should have put all of the anti-gun arguments to rest). The constant attacks on AR-15’s continue, but might be losing some traction seeing how the number of bonafide murders with rifles as a whole, neglecting the AR variant, palls in comparison to the number of deaths attributed to hands and fists by half. Magazines and accessories are still fun for them to go after. Ghost guns and by extension 3D printed guns is the soup du Jour for stigmatized firearms on the chopping block. The creativity and frothing at the mouth policies of the progressives keeps getting stepped up a notch. What is next? Banning firearm safety manuals?